DOH dismisses as ‘fake news’ that new Covid strain detected in NCR

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The Department of Health on Tuesday dismissed as fake news some social media posts warning the public that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant from the United Kingdom (UK) has been detected in Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR).

In a Facebook post, the DOH said Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has not detected the new Covod19 strain anywhere in the country.

“This is to clarify circulating reports on social media that the new SARS-COV-2 variant was detected in Metro Manila,” the DOH said.

“The Department of Health and the Philippine Genome Center, to date, have not detected the UK variant, or any new variant of SARS-COV-2 in any of the positive samples tested,” it added.

“The DOH and PGC are closely working together in order to intensify on-going biosurveillance efforts,” it said further.

The Department also called on the public to refrain from disseminating unverified information, which “only serve to create panic and confusion.”

Furthermore, whether or not a new variant is detected, the DOH reiterates that strict adherence to Minimum Public Health Standards is the best defense against Covid-19 and strongly urges the public to continue practicing MPHS across all settings to lower the rate of infection and reduce the risk of viral mutation.

The DOH earlier said all positive RT-PCR or swab test specimens from countries with cases of the UK Covid-19 variant will undergo genome sequencing.

In an earlier social media post, the PGC said it will continue sequencing and the biosurveillance of positive cases that will be brought directly to them for whole-genome sequencing.

The DOH assured that they closely coordinating with relevant agencies to make sure that stricter measures are being implemented to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus variant.

The new Covid-19 variant first found in the UK is more transmissible than other variants, and affecting a greater proportion of people under 20, according to a collaborative study from scientists and researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh, Public Health England, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Birmingham and the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium.

As of December 30, at least 27 countries, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have so far reported cases of the new strain.

Earlier, the Philippine Government imposed travel restrictions from countries with reported cases of the new coronavirus strain. CURRENTPH

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